Today, I want to talk to you about the power of having a weekly family night and how you can start one in your home. I am honored that this post is part of the Cultivating Home Blog Collaboration to help women cultivate their homes for the glory of God! This collaboration is also hosting a giveaway full of goodies, so keep reading for details. And if you are new here, welcome!
I’m also super excited to share my new printable, The Family Night Planner so that you can simplify the planning and start cultivating a fruitful practice for your family.
How we began having a family night
Years ago, my 3 oldest boys were just beginning their teen years and 2 younger boys had been added to our family. Life was going at warped speed and we were all going in different directions with work, friends, church, ministry and various activities. My husband was traveling a lot and we were having a communication breakdown between all of us because we barely sat down together anymore.
My husband and I knew something needed to happen to pull the family back together again and align our hearts with each other. In the past, we always had fun game nights and movie nights, but we were searching for a more meaningful way to connect beyond just some fun. So, we decided to hold a family meeting and institute a once a week family meal followed by a simple activity such as a movie or game.
The Power of Family Night
Our family nights have become a powerful tool to connect with one another, to honor God and consistently disciple our children.
Not long after we began having a family night, we noticed some pretty big changes in our family:
- the kids didn’t fight as much throughout the week
- I was much more centered as the keeper of the home
- the atmosphere was more peaceful in our home
- my husband stepped into his role as the leader of our family with greater ease and intention
- we were focused on God and family more
- we worked as a team better
- there was way less confusion because we prepared everyone for each week ahead
- because discipleship was happening regularly, our hearts and minds were being transformed
Sounds great right?! Just this one night each week had a profound impact on our family! If you are interested in starting your own, read on as I share how we implement ours and how to get your free printable to start your own Family Night tradition!
Family Night, a three-part planned evening
Our family night consists of 3 parts: Family Meeting, Family Meal, and Family Activity.
The only rule we have is that everyone in the house must attend and participate on some level. This isn’t really a problem for us because we all enjoy our family nights together, but on occasion, the teenagers will want to not play a game or watch certain movies. But they have never complained about sharing a meal and having a family meeting.
The Family Meeting
About an hour before dinner, we gather in the living room to have our family meeting. This is a very important time for us to come together, discuss the week, upcoming plans and heart issues we may be experiencing. This one thing has been SUCH a blessing to all of us.
Make sure to grab your FREE Family Night Planner Printable!
Opening prayer and scripture
The first thing we do to open up the family meeting is to pray together and go over our weekly scripture. This is kept brief but we do allow for some questions if the kids have any. We usually discuss the scripture a little more at dinner and I try to discuss it throughout the week with the kids here and there for reinforcement.
We also talk about a weekly focus that we would like to see everyone pay closer attention to. Sometimes it is a character trait, sometimes it’s a fruit of the Spirit, sometimes it is a manner that we would like to see everyone work on a little more like, respecting each other’s space, for example. This is done fairly quickly as well.
A clean slate
Then, we open the floor for anyone to get anything off their chest. This is where we air our grievances from the past week, minister to each other’s hearts, lift each other’s burdens, and apply forgiveness and counsel as necessary. This gives everyone an opportunity to end the week on a good note and begin the new week with a clean slate.
Fair warning- this is not easy at first. And mom and dad MUST set the tone by remaining positive and helping to keep everyone’s emotions in check. After some practice though, it will begin to bear beautiful fruit if you will stick with it!
- Keep to a reasonable time limit while staying sensitive to your children’s hearts.
- Do not indulge petty or revengeful behavior, but train everyone to be sensitive, respectful and gracious.
- Not everything has to be settled before moving on, and more sensitive issues can be addressed later and in private if need be.
- Recognize that this is a wonderful opportunity to ‘see’ into your children’s hearts and have things revealed so that they can be on your parental radar.
- For issues that cannot be resolved quickly, make a note to come back to it at a later time so that you and your spouse can give the issue the time and attention it deserves.
- Lead by example. If anyone has a grievance with you or your spouse, avoid excuses and defense statements, show humility and genuine repentance.
After cleaning the slate, lift everyone with personal praises and a quick discussion on family wins that week. Perhaps you noticed one sibling helping another earlier in the week. Openly praise them at this time and tell them you are proud of them.
Maybe the whole family pitched in to clean up the yard, tell them how appreciative you are. Ask them if they have any praises and celebrate with them when they share. Was there answered prayer that week? Praise God together as a family for it.
On the schedule
Wrap up your meeting with any important announcements or upcoming appointments for that coming week. This puts everyone on the same page, settles scheduling conflicts and lets the kids know what to expect. If you have a family calendar, write everyone’s stuff down so that they can see day-to-day what is going on. This eliminates so much confusion and reduces anxiety each week!
After the meeting, we send everyone off for about 30 minutes while I finish up dinner. I usually have one or two kiddos helping to finish setting things on the table, get drinks, etc…
The Family Meal
For us, the family meal happens the night before church and is the beginning of our Sabbath. This is a very special time for us each week. While we are not Jewish, we do implement Judaical concepts within our Sabbath observance in light of Christ our Savior.
The sabbath is a great delight for me, the woman of the home. It is a time when I prepare a special feast for my family. The table is set nicely, sabbath candles are lit, and I take this time in my week to pray blessings over my family and to lay my heart before the Lord. There is nothing legalistic about this time that I spend before God and it marks the laying down of every burden from the week and entering into an internal rest in Christ Jesus within myself.
My children and husband eagerly look forward to the Sabbath meal and they know that this is a joyous time for family around the table, Jesus, and of course, good food! We pray together, we talk and laugh. My one son says that it always feels like a mini-holiday that we get to celebrate every Saturday. I love that!
- Let the meal be a no-pressure zone.
- Look at each other in the eye. Slow down and really listen to the other person talking. Ask questions. Let your child tell you all about their interests.
- The meal doesn’t HAVE to be fancy, but I actually enjoy making a nicer meal once a week so I do. If that doesn’t work for you, that’s okay! Order out, keep it simple. I enjoy the lighting of the candles and my prayer time. I enjoy a beautifully set table and some flowers to mark the occasion. But there have also been times that we ate off of paper plates.
- The whole point of sharing a sabbath meal is to connect with each other and God. So focus on that. Invite God into your conversation and let the Holy Spirit guide you.
After our meal, we usually clear the table and either, play a game, or we start a movie in the living room. Sometimes, we go outside to hang out on the porch and let the younger kids play while we all sit and talk.
Some family activities can go on for hours (like an unending game of monopoly) and others, it’s only for about an hour and everyone kind of goes to chill out in their own spaces. That’s OKAY. We don’t force anything. We just try to foster a time of enjoying each other.
Wrapping up Family Night
About an hour before bedtime, we call everyone to gather their church clothes (including shoes and socks!) and prep for the next day. If baths or showers need to happen, then we start the rotation for that. I pack the church bag and lay out clothes for the youngest children and myself. Then, I prep for breakfast and make sure the bibles are next to the church bag. I usually start or prep a crockpot meal for us to have after church as well.
And that’s how we do family night!
I hope that this helps to inspire you to start your own! Don’t forget, I’ve created a planner to take the guesswork out of hosting a family night! It’s free for subscribers and really does help to keep track of everything on one sheet, especially when you are first beginning.